Meet Me On The Corner
Dear diary...1977 holds a big sack of memories for me, not only was I a part time vegetarian, that is to say that throughout the working week I'd be on a strict regime of experimenting with fruit, vegetables, nuts seeds and lentils, but I wouldn't be allowing myself to participate of these foods till I'd done my hour of yoga each evening after work, which I have to say I became quite proficient at.
I was a nanny looking after an eighteen month old little girl, so it was pretty easy to stick to my special diet of yummy whole meal bread sandwiches filled with salad for lunch, while Sophie tucked into her favourite soft boiled egg with soldiers. We spent a lot of pleasurable afternoons down at the park, and also I enjoyed walking on the downs when she'd have an afternoon nap in the buggy, or even walking down Whiteladies Road window shopping.
It was always good when Friday came around, me and Becky would go to our usual yoga class after work. It was a real challenge to get into some of the positions. I recall being able to balance all my weight on one hand, I have no idea how I accomplished this position but felt very proud of myself the first time I showed my mum. One of my favourite positions was standing on my head up against a wall and meditating, it makes me feel quite dizzy thinking about it now, but left me feeling like I could take on the world and more at the time. There wasn't any changing rooms in the building so at the end of the class we'd head to the toilets and get into our flairs and bell sleeved tops ready to hit the pubs.
After catching a bus up Gloucester Road, we'd make our way slowly back down till we ended up in Montpelier at The Old England pub. But if we were meeting a gang of friends it would always be on the corner of York Road Bristol, outside The Bells Diner.
This was our favourite restaurant which was always buzzing with atmosphere, from the moment you opened the door and entered there would be the energetic sounds of people talking and laughing at the same time, it was the height of activity as jazz music played in the background. Nobody cared about the smoke that snaked through the air, mixed with those wonderful aromas coming from the kitchen. On the rare occasions when it wasn't full, it would be like wandering into an old Victorian shop with vintage items dotted here and there.
The staff were always congenial and would leave you feeling relaxed with the house wine if your table wasn't ready. Some lucky customers would get to relax on the comfortable settees in the waiting area, but otherwise it would be standing room only, but we never minded.
On some occasions customers would be almost falling out the main door, so we'd wander along to the pub just up the road, I think it was called The Old England but I can't be sure.
I recall the warmth of The Bell's Diner that is so hard to explain, whether you were with a huge party of people, or just two of you out for a romantic evening of wining and dining. I would always break my vegetarian diet for their typical 1970s cuisine of chicken chasseur, or beef bourguignon, even steak diane served in a rich wine sauce, all their dishes came with either a jacket potato or thick homemade chips. There would be a choice of cheese and biscuits, or one of the many desserts on offer, my favourite being their delicious ice cream.
For such a popular restaurant the place was quite basic with its yard where there was an outside toilet, and you would wander passed the kitchen watching the hustle and bustle of staff working, yet nobody seemed to mind. I recollect once opening the main door and shuffling through the crowds, it was so packed people were standing out in the yard, but that was only once.
I look back on that same year doing a twenty four hour marathon dance for charity at the Arnos Court Hotel, we were so chuffed that we completed the 24 hours, a gang of us ended up at the Bell's Diner to celebrate our victory. We talked about how unfair it was that they had us jumping over benches because so many were left in at the end, it became more like a sports event than a marathon dance, people were flaking out all over the place.
We also kept our eyes fixed on the stairs as a ghost of a woman was supposed to haunt there, but all night we never saw a dickey bird, not a glimpse of a spirit. Boy! Were my feet on fire by the end? I should say so. It was around the time of Saturday Night Fever and they kept playing music from the film which was so uplifting and was what gave me energy.
If I try to explain to anyone who has never been to the Bells Diner how good it was they never truly understand, but the impact that restaurant on the corner of York Road had on me will stay around forever.
Meet Me On The Corner by Lindisfarne.